Sleep apnea consequences - A deadly disease

What is sleep apnea?

The consequences of sleep apnea can be far-reaching. But what is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea syndrome (SAS for short) is caused by breathing stops, known as apneas in specialist circles, during sleep. Symptoms of sleep apnea syndrome include microsleep, tiredness during the day, difficulty concentrating and more. The word apnea comes from the Greek and is pronounced Ap-No-E. In Germany, the version Apnö is also common.

What are the consequences of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea syndrome leads to a reduced oxygen supply during sleep phases and thus to increased waking reactions - these are an alarm reaction of the body to the reduced oxygen. The person affected often does not wake up, but the pulse, for example, is accelerated. Even if the patient does not wake up, sleep is often not very restful and chronic daytime sleepiness is often a consequence of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea syndrome is one of the major medical sleep disorders.


What are the different forms of sleep apnea?

There are two types of sleep apnea. One is called obstructive apnea and the other central apnea. However, it can also happen that a patient has both forms, in which case this is called mixed sleep apnea syndrome.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is the most common. In specialist circles it is abbreviated to OSAS. The cause of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is that the ring-shaped muscles of the upper airways relax too much during sleep. The reason for this is that the upper and lower jaws are backward. This means that the upper part of the trachea can no longer offer sufficient resistance to the negative pressure that occurs when breathing in. The upper part of the trachea collapses and the airway and breathing become obstructed. These breathing stops can sometimes last for more than 10 seconds, which in turn leads to hypoxaemia. This is the drop in the oxygen content of the blood. This leads to a lack of oxygen supply to the tissues and the body reacts by waking up so that breathing resumes. This makes sleep less restful for the person affected and it is hardly possible to fall into the deep sleep phase that is important for recovery.


The airways collapse

If only a part of the upper part of the trachea collapses, the breathing volume is reduced. This is called hyponoea. Although the oxygen content in the blood also decreases here, it is not as extreme as in sleep apnea. The collapse of the upper airways also causes the heavy snoring that is symptomatic of all sleep apnea syndrome patients. So if you snore a lot and are very tired during the day, you should see a specialist to find out if you have sleep apnea syndrome. Even snoring itself is dangerous to your health. In Germany, about 800,000 people are affected by sleep apnea syndrome, twice as many of them men as women, mostly middle-aged. Children are very rarely affected by sleep apnea syndrome. Sleep apnea syndrome results in breathing pauses, so the mixed form is also common.

Very rare, however, is the central form of apnea. This is caused by damage to the central nervous system and the brain forgets to breathe. Central apnea is often caused by neurological damage or is inherited.


What are the causes of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea syndrome is usually triggered by an interaction of several factors. Sleep apnea is favoured by the following factors:

  • Overweight
  • Sleeping pills, nicotine, alcohol, drugs
  • Enlargement of the adenoids (in children)
  • Curvature of the nasal septum
  • Polyps
  • Assessment
  • Malformation or malposition of the jaws(Goldenhar syndrome, etc.)
  • enlarged tongue or other soft tissues caused by acromelagia


What are the symptoms of sleep apnea syndrome?

The main symptom of OSAS is loud and constant snoring, which is interrupted by pauses in breathing. However, it is important to note here that while many sleep apnea patients suffer from snoring, it is not necessarily the case that a sleep apnea sufferer snores.

You can tell if you have sleep apnea syndrome by the following symptoms:


What are the consequences of sleep apnea?

If they do not treat sleep apnea, this can have consequences that manifest themselves in chronic diseases. High blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks are not rare and deadly sleep apnea consequences. Depression, stomach disorders and tinnitus can also be triggered by untreated sleep apnea. Migraine is also favoured by sleep apnea.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea syndrome, you should see your GP immediately, who will refer you to a specialist. Normally, tests are then carried out in a sleep laboratory to find out whether it is sleep apnea or not and what treatment methods need to be applied.


How can sleep apnea syndrome be treated?

The treatment of sleep apnea is multifaceted. Depending on the patient, weight reduction, abstaining from cigarettes and alcohol, sporting activities and playing music with wind instruments are recommended first. In case of severe sleep apnea, however, only a cure of the sleep apnea with the bimaxillary advancement with CounterClockwise rotation helps.